Who Put the “I” in “Team”? Part I (T’Chantem & Niko)

OOC: JP between GrayGladiator and Blitzen

Niko pulled a few blades of grass from the field, the fact that he could have killed Thorson and Ghost Spider Girl on his mind. He replayed his conversation with Theo and the later conversation with Sam in his head, And if Sam wouldn’t step up, then like taking care of Theo, it was on him. He’d managed the former without screwing it up too much, depending on who you asked, as long as who you asked wasn’t Theo. She needed help, and he knew that, but at the same time, nothing scared him more. He would have dwelled on it further, if not for the approaching car.

The headlights were the first thing Niko saw in the distance. Sainsbury wasn’t at all like the city where people always seemed to be going somewhere and cars drove day and night. Even Berlin had more traffic. He’d been skulking around the grounds outside and the sun was just about cresting the horizon, though most of the sky was still dark. He’d almost turned in moments ago, but now he was glad that he waited. Bouncing twice on his toes, He stretched out his arms, let out a deep breath and in seconds zipped through the compound up to the main road. He stopped on the dotted yellow line in the center, to see who was creeping up or passing by the compound.

It had been several days since T'Chantem last spoke to his Avengers teammates, three days to be exact, but with space to deal with the issues that were unfolding in his home country, he had finally decided that it was best he returned and properly offered an explanation for his absence in person. He had almost forgotten that he had borrowed one of Tony Stark's old sports cars, and nearly entered the back seat of the vehicle he had arranged with his personal driver, but when he saw the key still lying on his hotel dresser, he was quick to accommodate.

T'Chantem sped down the street towards Sainsbury, maneuvering the mostly foreign roads to the best of his abilities. His guards had remained back in their own rooms at the hotel once again, and the young prince had even arranged transportation for them to return home if he didn't return to Wakanda himself by the end of the week to deal with the defiant council; much to their disapproval and reluctance. When he was finally past traffic and sailing down the main street toward the compound, a certain familiar silver-hued blur popped into sight before him. Instinctively, T'Chantem came to a hard stop, pushing violently against the car breaks, his mind processing the event as quickly as he could handle. Standing before him was none other than Nikolai Maximoff, and it was no surprise to T'Chantem that a Maximoff was the one behind such exotic behavior.

"Nikolai! Why are you standing in the middle of the road?" T'Chantem inquired, he managed to keep his demeanor calm for the most part, mostly due to years of practice and training from his grandmother and his diplomatic experience. He had turned off the car and opened the door, stepping out to join Niko so that he could audibly ask such question.

Niko quirked an eyebrow. It wasn't like he didn't have plenty of time to get out of the way. "I could get out of the way, make a sandwich, come get back in the way and still have time to get out of the way," he grumbled under his breath." I thought you left." He said, mostly ignoring the question. "Back to Wakunda, I mean. Or you know, just -- left. So I wanted to see who was coming.”

T'Chantem could tell that Niko's demeanor didn't exactly match his own, or what he had become accustomed to as he got familiar with the oldest of the Maximoff cousins. The silver-haired speedster was showing obvious signs of stress and agitation, and T'Chantem knew that these qualities in most people usually led to them becoming irritable and a pain in the ass to deal with. Fortunately, T'Chantem didn't much care about Niko's slowly cresting sour attitude, as much as he did the reason why Niko felt such a way to begin with.

"I did leave, temporarily, and I left a message for you and the others before my departure. I haven't been back to Wakanda since I first arrived in the States, and I more than likely won't be going back until I feel that things are at least somewhat stable and properly established here," T'Chantem responded. He purposefully left out the struggles he had been facing in becoming the accepted king to the throne, Wakandan problems were for the Wakandan people, and there was little he believed anyone outside of his personnel could offer as useful information.

T'Chantem allowed there to be a moment of pause before speaking up again in an attempt to start before Niko decided to respond. "I can tell something is bothering you. Am I correct in this assumption?"

Niko raised both his eyebrows, genuinely impressed. “You can fight, make tornadoes AND read minds, that’s pretty awesome. Theo says she’s psychic, but mostly it’s me just agreeing with whatever number she guesses I’m thinking of. And I don’t know really how things here will ever be stable.”

With Niko's final statement, the hypothesis that there was an issue had become even more apparent, and practically set in stone coupled with the endless avoidance of questions. T'Chantem almost narrowed his eyes, but he knew that the Maximoffs would be arduous to handle the first time he saw them. "No, I'm not psychic, Nikolai. I'm going to ask you to stop avoiding my questions before I finish trying to communicate with you. However, you have confirmed that something is wrong, so tell me. You may think it is not my place to pry into your business, but it became my business not only because we are teammates and allies, but because you have also displayed the behavioral signs of there being an issue, and now this problem indirectly affects me as well. So, please, do share, if not for the sake of our relationship, than for the sake of being members of the same union.

Niko sighed. “That was a lot of words at one time.” He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, then let out a slow breath. “Theo was supposed to lead the team because this was her vision, and I know how important it is but I worry about it being too much pressure especially right now and she hates me apparently because I’m not a good cousin which I completely don’t understand and then I talked to Sam because I wanted him to be the leader of the team and maybe it’s just because his Dad led the Avengers, so that possibly wasn’t fair of me, but then he said he wouldn’t because it had to be unanimous even Theo and I know for a fact that Theo isn’t going to like that even a little bit so I figured it had to be me because I promised Mrs. Ghost Spider Girl’s mom that we would look out for her and how can I look out for her when there’s no team leader, so I tried to train her and Thorson because he has no confidence what-so-ever and that went just as poorly as everyone else seemed to know it would so now Theo is mad at me, I don’t know where I stand with Sam but I think I’m mad at him and we haven’t done a single thing yet except fight murder bots and we barely beat them and I can’t even say we’re teammates because what team?” He shrugged. “What team?”

T'Chantem took a moment to process the story Niko had relayed to him, as well as leaving a small window of time for Niko to add anything that he may have forgotten or felt would better explain the situation. When the two were standing in mostly silence for a few seconds, T'Chantem spoke. "Have you tried talking to Theodosia since this entire incident? If not, I suggest you at least try, and if you have and it didn't go well, then I recommend you simply give her time. You know her the best out of anyone else, so you already know the best approach to deal with that situation, whether you realize it or not, so don't brood over that in particular. It will eventually heal, and you two can learn from the conflict and move forward."

T'Chantem allowed Niko another second to listen and process what he said, before moving on. "Also, we don't need a leader. Not in title at least. Not every group needs a leader to function, and I actually don't know what would be best for us, other than the fact that it would be wise to have someone with experience, knowledge, and the confidence to be directing us and helping to set out plans of action. What does a leader for our group mean? Because, that's what comes to my mind when we use the term 'leader' for our circumstance. No one has to swear loyalty to this leader or honor to always listen. We barely know each other, and we are a group of mostly young adults, who I assume are mostly used to being in charge, and not necessarily of other people, but over our own actions and ourselves. I believe it's too early to try to establish a team leader, not everyone has even taken the time to properly introduce themselves to one another. How can we trust someone we barely know? Instead of singling someone out and figuratively putting them on a pedestal by branding them with the term leader, allow us to first team build on a personal level. Trust is the root of every relationship, and I don't believe we all trust each other, and it would be almost vacuous to immediately put our trust into this. I'm not saying that we need to necessarily be skeptical of our teammates or of our goals, but at the end of the day, we simply don't know everyone well enough to accomplish any type of teamwork, especially under a leader." T'Chantem paused again, but was quicker to speak the second time than before.

"And, I agree, you are correct, we are not a team, it's too early for that. We want to be one, but we simply aren't, and that's because team building takes time. We may feel like we don't have time, but you can't force something that isn't there, especially in the beginning. It's only destined to fall apart and crumble at that point." T'Chantem took a moment to watch Niko, hoping that he was listening to what he said, and that they were able to at least connect on some points.

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